'American Diet' Linked to Autism Highly processed, sweetened foods particularly bad: expert By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Apr 17, 2012 12:11 PM CDT 31 comments Comments Hostess Twinkies sit on a table September 22, 2004 in San Francisco. (Getty Images) (Newser) – The typical American diet may be to blame for more than just the obesity epidemic: A new study also links it to the autism epidemic. Unhealthy diets make it more difficult for the body to eliminate toxic chemicals, thus increasing the risk of autism and other problems, explains one expert. "People who consume high-fructose corn syrup can develop problems with mineral deficiencies, and these mineral deficiencies in turn can make their bodies have more problems with getting rid of contaminants in their bodies," he says. He adds that this issue is "complex," but that many "environmental and nutritional factors" are "preventable causes of autism." He specifically called out highly processed or sweetened foods, Public News Service reports, and recommended that pregnant women and children eat a diet rich in antioxidants and necessary minerals such as calcium. The study comes on the heels of another recent one that found obesity during pregnancy also is linked to autism.